Woewiyu founded the NPFL with Charles Taylor and served as Spokesman and Defence Minister until political dissonance led him to create and lead the NPFL-CRC during Liberia’s First Civil War (1989-1996).
In May 2014, Thomas Woewiyu was arrested at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, U.S.A, upon his return from a trip to Liberia. Woewiyu was charged with 2 counts of fraudulently attempting to obtain citizenship, 4 counts of fraud in immigration documents, 3 counts of false statements in relation to naturalization, and 7 counts of perjury.
11 June 2018 marked the start of Woewiyu’s immigration fraud trial. Over 35 witnesses testified to his direct and indirect involvement with war crimes during the civil war. After 13 days in court, the jury found Woewiyu guilty on 11 of 16 counts on 3 July 2018; his maximum possible sentence is 75 years in prison. Woewiyu died on April 12, 2020, of COVID-19, in Philadelphia, US. He was still awaiting for sentencing.
Civitas Maxima and its Liberian sister organization, the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP) assisted the U.S. authorities during the investigation.
This trial was the first time ever that somebody who held a ministerial position during the First Liberian Civil War faced justice and the first time that the atrocities of the NPFL – the most violent rebel faction active from 1989-1996 – were documented in a courtroom.
|Period of Activity||First Liberian Civil War|
|Status||Convicted but deceased whilst awaiting sentencing|
Civitas Maxima followed the trial and produced a daily trial monitoring. You can find it here.
Our videos on the Woewiyu trial
Videos were created in collaboration with Nicolas Braguinsky Cascini.
- April 13, 2020 – Thomas Woewiyu dies of COVID-19 whilst awaiting sentencing
- July 3, 2018 – Woewiyu’s verdict: A Step for Global Justice
- June 8, 2018 – Woewiyu’s Trial Beginning: The Momentum for Justice in West Africa
- Inquirer (2020) – Coronavirus kills Delco man convicted of hiding his role in Liberian war crimes, robbing victims of decades-deferred justice
- The New Republic (2019) – How the U.S. Became a Haven for War Criminals
- FrontPage Africa (2018) – Thomas Woewiyu Found Guilty on 11 Counts in Philadelphia
- NBC Philadelphia (2018) – Former Liberian Official With Philadelphia Ties Faces Decades Behind Bars at Immigration Fraud Trial